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Sponsorship marketing: Five criteria for success

Sponsorship is a friendly way of marketing. It's friendlier than advertising.

When prospects are on the receiving end of your advertising they know that you are trying to sell them something. So naturally their guard goes up. They prepare to deflect your advertising assault. And they are looking for the fine print. They are searching for the lie in your claims. Mass market advertising can be the least effective form of marketing and it's very expensive.

Sponsoring is perceived as a good thing. When you sponsor an event, community group or cause that your prospects like - they are more likely to like you. And they are more likely to trust those that they like. Trust makes it easier for prospects to buy from you. You don't need to say a thing about yourself. By sponsoring you are indirectly saying that you support the cause.

For that reason be sure to include sponsorship in your marketing. But, choose your sponsorships strategically. The next questions are, "What should you sponsor?" and "How do you know if you are getting a good return on your sponsorship?"


What should you sponsor?
Pick your cause - a charity, social issue or community group.
Pick an event - a fundraiser, community event or gala.
Pick a group - a business association, team or social group.

From a marketing point of view the question is, will the people who participate reward you with enough referrals, business or good will? Some of this payback is long term. So you need to test your personal convictions. Do you support this cause enough to loose money on it in the short term?

For example: I sponsored my daughter's soccer team. Did I expect a full return on my investment? No - not really. It was a small amount of money, much less than the cost of a traditional advertisement. I needed less than one sale to pay back. I was happy to support my daughter and proud to appear as a sponsor. Any business that I got would have been a bonus.

Sometimes you sponsor just for the exposure to the right group. For years I was a wine sponsor at the Chamber of Commerce President's Gala - a black tie affair. I did not expect direct business from it - just recognition and profile. It was a relatively small amount of money, only a few hundred dollars. Yet I received almost as much profile as the event major sponsors who invested thousands of dollars. It also provided a good conversation opener because folks thanked me for the wine.

Test your sponsorship opportunities against these five criteria:

A negative rating for any one of these criteria could be enough to disqualify this particular sponsorship.


1. Relative cost to exposure Is the cost relatively small compared to other venues of reaching this group? Are you getting more exposure or better targeted exposure from the sponsorship compared to other marketing avenues?

Related to this point, is how well can you leverage the sponsorship? Can you get a list of names? Can you market to them before or after the event? Will it help you to list this sponsorship in your other marketing materials?


2. Audience targeted to your best prospects
The best prospects for my marketing training and consulting are business owners of mid-size companies. So, I would rather sponsor a forum that reaches 100 business owners versus 1,000 front line customer service reps or 10,000 students. Be clear on who your sponsorship message will reach.


3. Your relative exposure among the sponsors
How many sponsors will there be? How well will you stand out and be noticed among the other sponsors? Being one sponsor among three is much better then being one among 20 sponsors. Don't get lost in the mob.


4. Do the other sponsors lift your profile?
Will you be in the company of other sponsors who make you look good? If you are a small business you might want to be seen in the company of large well known corporations that elevate your influence. You might choose to be associated with fellow sponsors Microsoft, Chase Manhattan Bank, and Coke over Unknown Consultants, Everyday Franchise and Local Taxi Cab.

Even the cause you sponsor can help or hurt your image. We judge you by the company you keep. Whose company are you keeping?


5. Do you support the cause?
If you don't believe in the program, group or their battle cry - then stay away from it. If you fake your support you will be uncovered and it will haunt you and hurt you.

Sponsorship can be an important element in your marketing activities. Sponsorship can provide you with a profitable return if you have clear expectations of the results and your motivation. Use the five criteria described above to help you make smarter choices in your sponsorship marketing.


© George Torok is co-author of the national bestseller, "Secrets of Power Marketing". To receive your free copy of "50 Power Marketing Ideas" and your free subscription to Power Marketing Tips visit www.PowerMarketing.ca
George Torok is a motivational business speaker who speaks to entrepreneurs, corporations and associations. www.business-speaker.biz/
For more business insights, comments and tips visit the marketing blog at http://georgetorok.blogspot.com/